Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Control and Answers

My heart did a quiet cartwheel within my chest.

I like that sentence.  And I miss that feeling.

In the past few minutes, I think I've realized that one of the things I like most about writing, beyond playing with words and meeting new characters and figuring out fresh and raw ways to say things, is control.  I mean, I never want to be a writer who strips all liberty from characters; they are free to make their own decisions, which are sometimes quite surprising to me (don't even get me started on that one). 

But, even when they are in the middle of an argment or something huge is coming down the road to eat them or whatever is happening, I know these people.  Their minds make sense (as much as anyone's mind can), and being able to see inside their brains, hear their voices as they scream out their very serious opinions that sometimes conflict with one another, is enlightening.  I love to see how they dance around each other, learning about their differences, learning what they will and won't compromise, learning, learning, learning.  It's a fascinating business.

But it makes living in a world of reality frustrating.  I can't see into your mind.  I don't know your whole past, family situation, emotional status, immediate struggles.  I only have me; my own understanding, my own stability in that moment.  But I want to understand you just as entirely deeply as I understand (or think I understand) those characters. 

But life doesn't work that way.

Plainly, I am a control freak.  I try to hide it as craftily as I can, behind walls of indecisiveness and silence and patience (ha!), but not having control over what is going on is one of the most frustratng things I have ever encountered.

Why is your sense of time so different from mine?  Why do our priorities vary so much?  Why isn't this funny to you?  Why are you spending your life doing that?  How can you be so insensitive about that?  And so on.

People are confusing.  I want to split open their minds and disect what makes us all do the crazy things we do.  I want answers to questions that go unanswered.  And will remain unanswerable.

This has been my struggle over sleepless, tear-saturated nights sitting cross-legged on my mattress with all the blankets shoved to the floor.  What the hell am I doing?  Where am I going?  Where do You want me to go?  What if I make these carefully formulated plans and then they changed because they aren't Your will and my heart is broken?  I know what will happen will be greater than I can ever imagine, but can You please give me one tiny clue so I don't start going in the complete wrong direction?  Please?

And the elusive answer to every question circling and spiraling in my mind arrived in the form of a half sheet of cardstock in my Christmas stocking while sitting in the blue chair in Grandpa's living room on Boxing Day.  The family verse for the year 2010 is this:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  -Psalm 119:105

Simply, God gives us enough to live right now.  And that's all that's promised.  This verse is like the saying about how your headlights only light a hundred feet in front of you, but you can drive home the entire way like that.

And while this answer isn't the one I want, not a solution to everything I'm questioning handed to me easily on a platter, it is the answer I need.  A reminder that God is here for us now, giving us the strength and understanding we need for each step as it is being taken.  We aren't programmed to understand more than that; that's why He is God and we are not.  And if I try very hard to focus my attentions and worries and strivings for answers and the here and now, and the path being lit for me by Him, I can live more intentionally.

I'm sorry if I try to control you.  I'm just trying to understand.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On Missing You

Home.  It feels more like the Christmas season than last year, even though we don't have snow.  I love wandering around our town, buying Christmas presents, seeing lights.  I just baked cookies, and finished reading the seventh Harry Potter whilst listening to Christmas music.  It was a beautiful moment in my life.

But I miss lots of things.

I miss my boyfriend.
I miss my roommate.
I miss my two great friends who live down the hall.
I miss my sister.

I miss watching Friends instead of studying.
I miss listening to good music and watching people walk by outside the window.
I miss the bustle of bodies walking up and down the hallway, even when fifth was unceremoniously noisy.

I miss Chapel and group and my job (a little surprisingly).
I miss Dr. Neinhuis's lectures and Dr. Long's slide shows.
I miss throwing my keys out the window.
I miss wearing onesies with friends.

I miss you.  A lot.

Come home soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Break

Me at Starbucks, trying to write my paper on Twelfth Night.  Not being able to focus enough.  I know what I want to write on [The characters are stuck in their social positions; Only those with higher social status end up happy; Those with lower social status keep each other in their places by exploitation and indulgence], but the words, phrases, sentences sprint away as fast as they possibly can.

And I am left with these words.  Useless?
Everyone’s moving, talking,
Caffeine making its way through all of our blood streams;
Foreign languages echo,
Norton open on my lap,
Lines of Shakespeare on thin tissue like pages, annotated
With blue ink in my hand,
Last work of the quarter
Before complete relaxation can over take each moment
During which I’m awake.
That would be my brain,
And the frost which coated my car this morning, un-gloved
Hands freezing, numbing.
Purple and black plastic
Against the windshield of the car, frost coming off in sheets,
Making way for vision.
As in, that kid is really
Tall! I wonder if he plays basketball. Reminds me of when
SPU’s team came to
Distance from school
Seems immense, when my heart has been split up and sent
To various locations
Trying to force focus:
Once this paper’s finished, then the editing (joy!) can begin,
Discovery once more:
Too many distractions,
Taking the form of people, and thoughts of tiny planes flying
High above the Atlantic;

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On Finals

Ok, I'm in the library.  And don't even want to think about the fact that all of my finals are tomorrow.  Because it makes me feel like I'm going to die.  But in twenty-four hours all of this will be over, and I will be so, so, so excited and completely brain dead.  It'll be great.  And then I'll have two days of doing nothing/writing a paper.  And then home.
How quickly this quarter has gone by.  So much has happened. 
And I could not be more thankful to my God for the blessed people with whom He has surrounded me.  They are my favorites.
Lastly, I really couldn't focus in UFND on Friday: restlessness overtook my thoughts.  So I wrote this little disjointed poem.  And thought I'd share it:

Last day of class:
Heavy eyelids; restless limbs.
One paper down, one to go.
One class left, one test to take.
A three final day;
Three dearest ones on jet planes...
Home to a quiet house,
An empty room;
Don't leave me alone here, loves,
In my archaic town,
Twinkling with lights.
Nothing will ever be the same.
Each moment is ending,
Slipping through the gaps
In my fingers
Like sand.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On Half a Year

How to celebrate six months in style:
Ice skating.
Carousel riding.
Foutain touching.
Downtown wandering.

Being together.

On Giving Thanks

My dear friend Kirsty tagged me in this the other day.  She's basically the coolest person ever, and anyone interested in writing or being awesome should read her blog.  Because she's great.  And has an agent.  And I secretly want her life sometimes.

rules: list ten things you are thankful for, five of which must be writing-related.

1. Church: it's pretty much my favorite.  I love being in this big room, so filled with the Spirit of God, surrounded by people I know, people I recognize, and complete strangers.  Knowing that we've all had such different lives, but we're still all here, eager to worship the same great God is inspiring to me.

2. Rain: I love my city for so many reasons, but one of them must be the weather.  I love rain: it's cold, it's fresh, it smells good, it makes everything feel like new, it's beautiful.  And the sun is really just too hot.  Give me a fifty degree day with rain, and I'll be happy for always.

3. SPU: I adore this place.  I am so thankful that God tipped the scales to keep me here in Seattle, instead of jetting off all the way to Spokane (I mean, that's practically in another state...).  I've grown more here than I ever thought could be possible, and met some of the greatest people who I've ever come into contact with.

4. Walks: Within these moments outdoors, staring up at the sky, my sanity is found.

5: Pie:  Hey, it's not that random; Thanksgiving just happened, and pie is great.  There are so many different varities, and you can eat it with whip cream, or ice cream, or coffee, or plain.  It's always a good time for pie.  I think this is a very valid thing to be thankful for.

6: My Creative Writing Group:  Starting junior year of high school, Joey, Clarissa, Bekah, Alex, and I have been sharing life and sharing writing together.  Even though we only meet up about twice a year, being able to talk about writing in conjecture with life is such a blessing.

7. Eighth Grade English: Combine classical music with creative writing prompts at the start of class, and you get a happy Anna.  My most favorite prompts were the ones with the black and white illustrations that had the opening line of a story, and you had to write the rest.  It was in that year, it was in that class, when this whole insanity started.

8. NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month is the reason I have two completed novels.  A crazy, word filled thirty days.  It's self imposed torture and so much fun at the same time.  And my project this year (just finished on Sunday night, exactly fifty thousand words) forced me to dive into the Bible, and into my own mind.  I loved writing these scenes.  This was the first time that I really came into contact with God through my writing: it was no longer just a way to worship, but I way to learn and to grow in the Word, and in my understanding of who God is.  Thanks Nano: you're great.

9: Ali Morgan: Writing parties, pretzels, ranting about characters with dirty mouths, swapping ideas, keeping each other motivated, pep talks, inumerable cups of tea, walking to and from small group, laughter.  Love.

10. Books: Ok, this one might seem a little bit vague and impersonal, but seriously: I love books.  I've loved them since before I could read.  Take me into a bookstore, and I can be lost in bliss for hours.  It is through these bound pages that authors reveal the world.  It's through these playful words on paper that I've met Heathcliff, Ponyboy, Hand, and Harry Potter.  I am blown away by the messages writers have to say, and reading their words only makes me want to write more; to throw out these thoughts onto paper, to see if (just maybe) there's something important enough to be shared.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On Harvesters of Light

From church last night.  Pastor Dahlstrom showed a music video of one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard.

Notes on Acts 28:

Above everything, do not let your heart be hardened to the voice of God.

In spite of all Paul has gone through, he still emparts hope to everyone he comes in contact with.  And we can fully identify with Paul: he's us!  He tries and fails; he gets discouraged.  But he's a person of hope in his full humanity.

We're called to be the presence of the future, offering snapshots of the kingdom of Jesus.  We're creating shards of light.

We live in this tension of the now and the not yet.  The darker the world gets, the more opportunity we will have to shine.

The triumph of service over selfishness is where we're called.  Filled up with all the fullness of God, so we are able to give, able to serve.  "I am what I give."  We can still be people of hope in the midst of our prisons.

It all comes down to relationships.  This is the validity of the Gospel: in that you have love for one another.

For you to move into God's story, He asks you to open your hands and die to everything you're holding above Him.  You have to move into the life God is calling you to.  If you don't, you're missing the opportunity to do the one thing that matters in this world: to be light bearers in the darkness.  To be harvesters of light.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Matt and Kevin (3)

Oh Matt, where did this come from?

“Before I launch into some epic speech, why do these particular issues raise such strong objections from you? In other words, why does it matter to you that hypocrites are Christians? Er… reverse that one. I mean, as a non-believer, I guess I’m not entirely sure why you want Christians to be faithful to their own beliefs? Why not just let them, as you would probably say, fuck themselves over, and live a lie?”

“Because I’m surrounded by them every single day of the year. And I have been for the entirety of my life. And it’s bothered me since I was pretty young. But I never had anyone to really contrast them with until you came along. I didn’t know what it looked like to actually live a Christian life in a way that is congruent with Christian beliefs. It seemed like an impossibility to me. But here you came along, and I was like, ‘Huh, people can actually do this. Why am I surrounded by the biggest fucking herd of conformist hypocrites ever?’ And it annoys me. And I feel like this has to be kind of prevalent everywhere nowadays.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, in the New Testament, the ‘bad guys’ are pretty much the Pharisees and other religious leaders. And I’m pretty sure in our reading- well, in the Christian reading of the Gospels, you’re supposed to identify with the Pharisees. And Jesus is always calling them hypocrites, and white washed tombs, and dirty cups, and all of these other fun metaphors. And I think he’s accusing us of that, too. We think we have it all figured out, with our little Sunday school classes, and our memorized Bible verses, and our inspirational sayings, and our church socials, and all of this other shit we subscribe to. But Jesus is calling us to be radical, and break out of that religion and close mindedness and the tendency we always have to be a bit legalistic, and follow him, even when what we’re supposed to be isn’t so spelled out.”

“Keep going,” he pressed me. I didn’t need persuading.

“I think that this is why Jesus got killed. The ideas he proposed were so uncomfortable with the tradition soaked Pharisees; they couldn’t stand to be asked to step out of the formulated comfort zone they had been steeped in for their past hundreds of years. They weren’t ready to take that step. His teachings were too big of a challenge; they got scared out of their minds, and decided to just knock off this man who was presenting these crazy ass ideas. But what Jesus was teaching is what Christians are supposed to mold their lives around. Not the endless lists of laws in Leviticus, not what you should and shouldn’t do. ‘Love your neighbor, give to the poor, care for the orphans, don’t judge or condemn.’ These are our laws. ‘Forgive as I forgave you.’ This is what should dictate our lives, none of that other shit. The Pharisees were trying to play God, I’m pretty much convinced. They thought they were all awesome because they followed the law, but they missed that it was God behind the law, the God of love, who wanted them to live for him, not for the law.”

In other news, I just Google (actually GoodSearched) my title, and got this article.  After being very annoyed by the first half, I think the author had some important things to say.  And I love the poignant last line.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On These Past Three Days

Guys, stop loving me so much, ok?  I'm overwhelmed by it all.  This goes to Jill, Em, Hol, and Ben: without you guys, my life would be lacking much.  I cannot express how much God has taught me this quarter through all of your love, your constant encouragement, your hugs and words, your very presence.  Each one of you is absolutely amazing and my greatest friends in the world.  I love all of you so much, sometimes I feel like my heart is exploding.  Let's be friends for always, ok?  Ok.

Friday:  Rising early for the first time after two days of sleepin' in.  Sleepy Brit Lit class full of John Donne.  Curling up in my giant orange blanket with the novel, vowing not to go to UFND.  Calm Gwinnsy times.  Easy Animal Bio test.  And the promise of an amazing weekend.  Hide and Seek on the floor for an hour (almost suffocating in Taylor's bed, sitting in Holly's closet for ten minutes, listening to Ben's exclamations every time he was found).  Apples to Apples, followed by fellowship, followed by UP (and all the memories that brough to mind.  Also, every girl in the room tearing up).  Snuggles in Holly's bed, followed by an enthusiastic Happy Birthday song once the clock struck midnight.  Climbing into bed, excited for tomorrow.

Saturday: "Good morning, good morning..." A song at 6:48 AM.  Holly and Em being the greatest roommates me and Jill could ever have.  Pumpkin spice pancakes and hot cocoa on an empty floor.  We are so loved.  Climing back into bed (oh, the bliss).  A lazy afternoon, complete with lack of concentration.  Speculation and nerves.  Bananagrams.  Blindfolded in the toaster.  "SURPRISE!"  Everyone I love all in one house.  Oh, how beautiful.  Tacos.  Funfetti.  Coloring.  The smell of leather, familiar lyrics... Hide and Seek.  Friends.  Collapsing into bed.

Sunday: Sleep.  Breakfast picnic.  Christmas music.  Church.  Parents.  Coloring.  Pasta.  Books.  Cuddling.  Snoozing.  Relaxing.  Seven Passages.  Breathless, adrenaline filled hour.  Worship.  Writing.  No sleep.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Pies and Pints

This was a beautiful outing.  Meat pies and punk music.  Drink lists and sweet potato fries.  Escaping campus and reveling in high school friendships that have survived.  Tales of new friends, old friends, sporting events, theatre, and Harry Potter.
"How's this for a mundane super power: being able to heat the beverage you're holding to the perfect temperature.  Anyone?"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

On Matt and Kevin (2)

I am hellishly behind.  Still excited.  But the words are slowing down.

But here's this:

Two minutes later, we sat on the floor of the bathroom together, side by side. With his breathing returned to normal, he was twirling the inhaler between his long fingers, staring blankly at the opposite wall. We could have sat there forever, in pregnant silence, postponing what I thought was the inevitable. But that was almost more painful than hearing the truth. I clasped my hands and turned to look at him.

“So… about what you were saying before?”

He took in a deep breath, and looked back at me. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m at war with myself. And I’ve been praying and praying. And it seems like God is saying nothing in response. And I don’t know if that means, “no,” or if I’m supposed to wait, or what.”

I rubbed the side of his arm, lacking any comforting thing to say.

“I’m just completely lost here,” he said, blowing out his breath in a rush. “Oh, Jesus, where am I supposed to go?”

“I’ll come be lost with you,” I said, my voice small. He looked down at me, mouth in a small, sad smile.

“Shit, you make this hard,” he told me.

“I’m sorry. Is this struggle hitting you all at once, or have you been thinking about it for a while?”

“A while, I guess. I’m just confused. This was a completely black and white issue for me before. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Because it is sin, right? I mean, it’s in the Bible. God’s destruction…” His voice faded.

I tightened my grip on his arm. “I love you,” I said firmly. “Is that a sin?”

He looked at me with clear blue eyes, and slowly shook his head.

“You look terrified,” I said, trying to smile.

He shook his head. “I’ve never been this uncertain before. It’s a little disarming.”

“Someone very wise once told me that we are called to lives of instability and uncertainty so God can work through us.”

He laughed, because I was quoting him. “You don’t believe that, though.”

“So?” I asked. “You do. Maybe God’s trying to teach you through this. Maybe your understanding of the law is wrong, or too narrow minded, or too legalistic. Maybe he’s transforming your mind into the image of his own.” A wave of guilt washed over me as I spoke these words. I can speak the language of Christian. I know Bible references, I know clichés, I know, I know, I know… I felt like I was manipulating him with my words. But I didn’t want to lose him to his faith. But I didn’t want his faith to lose him, either. If anyone could find congruence between Christianity and homosexuality that made sense to me, it would be him. He could save me.

“Maybe you’re right,” he said, voice small. He rubbed at his eyes with the tips of his fingers. “All of this thinking makes me feel like my head’s about to explode.”

“Exploding head is probably not the best thing. Take a break from thought. Want to go get some coffee?”

“That would be good.”

I nodded to myself, and stood up. Offering my hands out to him, he laced his fingers in mine and pulled himself off the floor.

“Don’t worry,” I said in what I hoped was a reassuring way. “You’ll figure things out.”

He nodded his head, chewing on the inside of his cheek, and we walked out of the bathroom together.

I was scared for him. I didn’t want to see him break over this issue. It was a struggle: I knew firsthand how much. You live your entire life, happy, blissful, close minded, and unaware, believing in one thing, when suddenly your whole person, the very life you’re leading conflicts directly with that belief. What do you do? You’ve done nothing wrong, but this huge gate with spikes on the bottom of it has suddenly crashed down between you and everyone you know, everything you believe, and you’re left without anything to grasp onto but the cold, unforgiving metal stinging at your hands.

It’s rough.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On a Smidge of Nostalgia

So, I was just wasting time on Facebook
(Welcome to the existence of college students),
And I ran across those pictures from Hall Ball.
You know the ones, of you and me slow dancing.
What an absolutely joyful time of remembering;
How I could scarcely breathe when you pulled
Me closer to you in the midst of the song;
How I frolicked on the side of the dance floor
With Holly and Jill, on the point of screaming;
How I could not stop smiling, pouring out my
Thanks to our God, for His goodness and joy.
What a beautiful night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Matt and Kevin

A flood of words. I am so excited about this project. It's me spilling my inner most thoughts out on paper in the mouths of my two most favorite characters.

An excerpt:

“Give me an example of someone loving someone who’s fucked them over.” This is the question I posed to him one afternoon before we were dating. He was sitting on the floor of my living room, history book open in his lap. I was behind him, in a similar position of studying. I rapped him on the head with my highlighter as I posed this question.
“Woah. Where is this coming from?” he asked, turning half around. We’d been reading quietly for almost an hour.
I backed off a little from the vehemence accompanying the initial question. “I was just thinking.”
He nodded, accepting this as a completely legitimate answer. He thought for a moment, running a hand back through his hair (he does this all the time…). He pushed his book onto the carpet, and turned completely around, facing me, folding hs arms on the cushion of the couch.
“Jesus,” he answered after a moment.
“Ok, how about we pick someone who existed,” I said, scooting away from him, leaning against the back of the couch, pulling one knee up to my chest.
“No, just think about this for a moment,” he said, leaning forward. “Ok, you’re just chilling, living your life, and all of a sudden, people are plotting to kill you. They arrest you, unjustly at that, torture you, and execute you. But you still love them.”
I hugged my knee to my chest. “That doesn’t happen.”
He tilted his head to the side. “But it did.”
I sighed, looking up at the ceiling. “I hate it when you preach at me.”
He pulled himself up off the floor, and sat beside me, one hand suddenly on my shoulder. “I’m not trying to. That’s just where my mind automatically goes.”
I wasn’t looking at him, eyes forced onto the floor. He squeezed my shoulder, and I almost swallowed my tongue.
“How did your mind get there?” he asked.
“Fucking Bible class.”
“Oh, yeah? The “Love Your Enemies” paper?”
“That would be it.”
“Why’s it seem so backwards to you?”
“Ok, how is it not backwards? You love people who love you, and hate people who hate you. That’s how life functions.”
“But that’s so easy. Think about it: you have to put forth absolutely no effort to like people who like you. But not everyone’s going to like you. And if you can love someone who’s not to fond of you, that’s going to completely blow them out of the water.”
“But that’s…”
“Hard? Uncomfortable? Terrifying?”
He suddenly smiled. “Love it. You’ve got to throw people off guard, make them question, allow them to see the difference in your heart. That’s how change happens.”

I sat in stunned silence, letting his words infiltrate my mind.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Halloween

The last day of October. A day of wind and rain and blustering leaves. A day filled with sitting in a blanket fort, studying in Cafe Ladro, conversation with friends, costumes, episodes of Friends, dancing, tears, and words.

The first day of November. I'll share the intro to my novel:

I was asleep when the second call came, the call that ended my life. In that moment, lying in my brother’s arms, everything cracked and fell in tragic pieces. Cracks… cracks let the light get in. And light, it comes in various forms, in different hues, from so many new and unusual sources.

This is a shameless account of my thoughts, my words, my actions, my life over the past year. This is my confession. I make no claim toward repentance. I merely aim to share my experiences, and pray to be met with love instead of condemnation. I claim no understanding, no wisdom, no authority of any type; only a humble desire to love and be loved without the judgment of a legalistic religion, a close-minded town, a conservative family.

I live as I must, in silence and in honesty.

Here's to the words that will be penned, the friendships grown, the tears shed, the love deepened in the season to come. As the leaves fall, may joy soar.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On a Day of Joy


Awakening at nine to the buzzing of an alarm. Reseting the alarm for nine-forty five. More sleeping.

Finally rising at ten, taking a shower, putting on clothes.

Meeting grandpa and cousin for coffee and conversation.

Walking Dewey in the crisp grey morning air.

Five hours at work. Dying of hunger. A visit from Holly, Lara, and Jill.

A secretive phone call.

Thirty minutes (only seven of which were used getting ready).

Dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with Ben, filled with laughter at everyone around us.

Orange lillies. Aly Quatier, and curling up in the papasan. A quick kiss in the stairwell.
Small group, with more stories than Hosea. Much marshmellow munching.

Happy five months.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On the Papasan

I fell into this chair a moment ago
And realized it smells like you:
Tears bite at my eyes, curling into a ball,
Fingernails cutting into my palms,
Face against green fabric; at war with myself.

I cannot live like this because
I hurt you.
I hurt her.
I am not real.
I cannot love.
Not now.
Not like this.

Psalm 42:11

Friday, October 23, 2009

On Flying and Crashing

What is wrong with this week?

It has been the most emotionally horrible time I've experienced in years. I can't remember how many times this week I've come back to the room, shut the door firmly behind myself, kicked off my shoes, dropped my book-laden bag, and dissolved into tears.

I hate sorrow without reason. If you're going to be sad, have a concrete reason behind it, ok? And the grossest part of this week is there have been moments when I couldn't have been happier. Like church on Sunday, seeing Allison on Friday, small group last night. But at these other times, I am so wedged and crammed inside my own thoughts, I can hardly breathe.

Balance, come back. Sanity, I desperately call for you. Stability...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Prayer at group


Jesus, here is my plea: I need you in my heart to carry my always. I am so unstable on my own. You are faithful and just. I need Your joy in my heart in order to show Your love to this world, to those around me. God, I desperately want to be filled up with You.

Take my heart, my anxieties. I trust so much, Lord, that You are holding me. Help me to live each day being fully present; to make each word I speak intentional.

God, I cannot stress enough how unstable I am without You. Please, God, You do not call us to lives of comfort, ease, and security. But You promise joy and peace to our souls. Please, Lord, help me to dwell in You, in the utter stability of Your love.

Can I plainly scream, "Come, Lord Jesus, come"?

I give this heart to You, God, day after day. Rip, mold, form it as you must in order that Your will (oh, the importance) might be made plain, might come to action and fruition through these thoughts, words, movements.

God, speak to my heart. Give me the reassurance that I am where You need me to be, that You want to use me here and now. Teach me how to talk to You, how to listen to Your voice, how to seek Your word, and utterly desire Your presence by my side. Capture me again, Jesus, and do not let me go. I do not want this stagnation and lack of movement. Your call to love is a call to action.

Stop internalizing. This is a cry to myself. We are the body of Christ, the united Church; not individuals in our faith, but collectively the children of light and of love. My focus is so narrowed. Come into my mind, Lord, and break through the walls which constrict thought and emotion. Allow me to hear where You are calling me to serve.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On Rain

Just returned from a study trip to the Queen Anne Starbucks. Now, sitting at my desk, eating oatmeal, listening to the rain, and unable to pry my eyes off the beauty of the red, orange, yellow, green trees outside my window. Seattle has been living up to its reputation these past few days. And I could not be happier. The rain. It's amazing. It makes me want to breathe, and sigh, and close my eyes for just about forever. Listen. Oh, thank You, my Lord, for such beauty. You know when you're walking in the early afternoon and the rain is falling fast and steady and a wind blows through the perfect autumn tress, and suddenly leaves are cascading down like flurries of snow? I love that. This week has been a struggle, though. And I'm not sure why. I've not been spending the time with Jesus that I should, and I've sort of curled up inside myself. Some thoughts on that from Wednesday:

I am selfish and tired and antisocial in this moment. God, can you please take the focus off of me? I don't have the capacity to exist in these diverse and conflicting mindsets demanded. I am such a small, grumpy, closed-up, detached, judgmental person. This running commentary in my head, it's disturbing. I don't know what to do with these thoughts of hatred and impatience that are so far and foreign from the person I claim to be, yet so intrinsically tired to my heart. I need You, God, to reach inside me and rip out my selfish heart of stone. I don't care if it'll hurt, God: I need You in my heart, and You only to make me whole. I've been struggling a lot lately with impatience. I think it's because I have a hard time understanding people's minds when they don't exactly conduct themselves as I would. For example... I don't necessarily thrive on attention; in fact, I avoid it as much as possible. And when others strive for attention more than anything else, I just get really confused. Why do you long for others to focus on you? What validation exactly are you looking for by having all eyes, all ears, turned toward you? I can't fathom the depths of your mind. "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Colossians 3:12-14

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On Words and God

Sometimes, I feel like I have multiple personality disorder. It's through the writing that these voices scream.

From Matt:

We sit in these rooms and question truth, strive for knowledge, yearn for understanding. We live our simple lives, laughing together, growing up slowly, experiencing what we feel is pain and heartbreak when it comes along. We are beautifully blind. We need to be shocked back to life [clear]. We need to take our first breath and open our eyes and realize the complete paradise we live in. Comfort. Safety. Privilege. I don’t know what to do to reconcile this. It isn’t fair. I don’t want these privileges… but at the same time, I’m terrified that they’ll be stripped away.

I loved how perfect you were, with that one fatal flaw. When your lungs crumpled up, cracking and squeezing your chest into a writhing pit of pain. I can’t watch you then; it makes my heart splinter. I know that I am weak; this is why I cling to you. But when you are breaking, my world is sent spinning. If you, my savior, need saving, what am I to do? I am not strong enough, with this book full of heavy condemnation slung about my neck, and an increasing scream of judgment echoes in my ears. With you, I can hide away from that which tortures my mind. How is this sin? God calls us to love; I love you desperately. Tell the church to fuck itself for saying that love is sin. Hypocrisy is sin too, you bastards. Fuck off.

My ears burn. “Free us from that which binds.” Stop banishing me to Sodom. I can’t fit that mold. Please: you’ve already silenced me. Just let me be. I am so tired of these same words, over and over, these same archaic stories that have no relevance. Why are you allowed to dictate how I live just because you heft this old book? Yet, it breaks me in pieces when I see him walk into that sanctuary, when I watch him stretch his hands in worship, when he stares at me with eyes of such conviction. Don’t look at me like that, like you’re pitying me. Imperfection on display. How do you know me so well? Stop reading my mind; you’ll only be disgusted by what you’ll see. “I will sing to and worship the King who is worthy.” I stand in silence, letting my mind sprint, my eyes stayed on the perfect hair of the bass player. I’ll just stay here, waiting to get what I deserve from our ‘just’ God. Your justice is twisted. “Give me a new heart. Take out this wreckage of stone.” I’m so tired of your words. Your God is so twisted, so selfish and jealous and wrathful. How can you talk about mercy and forgiveness and grace? Ask the Sodomites about God’s love. Talk to the Egyptians about mercy. Genocidal, unforgiving, legalistic bastard.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On Living

Take one quick second and breathe in. Close your eyes, hold that breath. Tilt your head up toward the ceiling or sky and open your eyes as you blow it out.


One week of classes is finished, and it feels like nine. Don't finals start tomorrow?

In some ways, this year feels exactly like a continuance of last year. These friends who've been separated by a summer coming back together seamlessly. Hours of laughter and stories and homework and sharing meals and curling up together to listen to the wind.

In other ways, this year feels completely foreign. Who are these faces at floor meetings I don't recognize? What is this absolute mountain of homework fallen from the sky? Where did this beautiful room and completely perfect roommate come from?

I love it. I love this year. And yet, at the very same time, there is still so much anxiety in my heart at all times. I cannot relax.

I've run into a complete conflict of interests in my life. I feel so at home and so comfortable and safe here at school. I am so happy taking my classes, reading my ancient literature, living day by day, studying and eating in Gwinn.

But I don't know what I'm doing with my life.

Plain and simple, this terrifies me to no end.

One of the very first questions anyone asks in college when first meeting you is, "What's your major?" With the answer of, "English, creative writing," what surely follows is, "Oh... What are you going to do with that?"

I don't know.

Please stop asking.

I just know that I'm doing what I love. I don't have some magic career in mind that will keep me off the streets.

I live with two conflicting perspectives: that of eternity, and that of everyday. But I'm not planning out my future. And while I feel this is the correct mindset to have, to leave everything wide open for God to act, it scares me none the less.

Can I believe without fear? Does a lack of courage discount my faith at all?

With pressure on all sides to find a future vocation, know my place in the world, be ready to set out and change everything, I feel myself slowly shrinking. You have lofty goals. You know exactly what you want to do and where you want to do it. You know who you're going to marry.

I know... what I'm doing this afternoon. A bit of what'll happen next week. That's all.

I've seen God, though, take things in my life and turn them around. I've experienced being dead-set on a certain outcome and having God say, "No." But while I don't want to forge forward into an unknown future, I also do not want to sit by idly, waiting for something to happen. I know that God works through our actions.

It is this balance that I need of prayerfully asking about opportunities, taking tentative but strong steps forward, but always keeping my hands open for God to take the reins and lead to... anywhere.

Notes from last Sunday:

This is our life: we set out following a plan, and things change.

How do you find a path that leaves room for the Holy Spirit's intervention? How do you plan, but be open?

We must learn to lean into our desires, praying for discernment as to what we should hold onto and what we should let go of.

We think we know what God wants for us, but then we're forbidden by the Holy Spirit. This is the Christian life for you: there is always a little bit of uncertainty.

I want to be the one place where He wants me to be.

And notes from today:

How can I offer you Christ as the answer? By knowing your question. By learning your culture.

Our witness doesn't begin with a chasm of difference, but with finding a bridge, with building relationships, with love.

Are you going to step into God's story or stay in your own?

Today I will stop waiting and begin to live.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Home

Tonight is the last night I'll spend in this room.

Until, you know, Thanksgiving. Not the longest time frame in the world, but still: something to be noted.

This summer has been so many things: long, short, wonderful, tedious, inspirational, frustrating, joyful, depressing, amazing...

This last week has been so stressful and so terrifying that school's starting has been completely overshadowed.

Hello, sophomore year. How are you feeling today?

Move in tomorrow. Freshmen coming soon. Then classes and studying and late night Beth's runs and brother/sister floor bonding. Add Ben and writing and Jesus, and there's just enough time for (not quite enough) sleep.

And then, of course, the swine flu will probably come attack our campus.

I'm sad that our floor will be different than it was last year. What an amazing time we had, what beautiful girls, what love-filled memories. But this year will be amazing, too, and in a brand new way. I'm excited.

I am out of my mind exhausted. Sleep and stress don't coexist in my world...

What do you have in store for us this year, Lord?

It'll be amazing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Prayer

Oh my word.

I have no words.

Sitting up in my bed at 3:40 this morning, crying, saying, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord," over and over again until the tears quelled.

Our lives are so fragile.

"Tonight the stars speak of your infinite love
And it serves to remind me
That what I have means nothing at all
Compared to your glory.

Oh Lord,
How long till your voice speaks clearly?
How long till your arms envelope me?
I cry, be my strength when I am weak.
Oh Lord, have mercy on me please.

My spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak;
I cry in your arms now.
God, grant me the strength to rest in you;
I lift my hands and cry.

Oh Lord,
How long till your voice speaks clearly?
How long till your arms envelope me?
I cry, be my strength when I am weak.
Oh Lord, have mercy on me please."

Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On Hope (Please Take Some!)

This last year, my life exploded in the best way possible. I made so many amazing friends, learned about my world and myself. But most importantly, I learned so much about God. I started thinking about what I believed on a personal level, instead of just willingly lapping up all of the (sometimes bullshit) doctrine shoved toward me by my school, church, friends, teachers, and books. I started to think for myself, and learned that Jesus is greater than I ever could have imagined. And that blew my mind.

All of this to say: before this year, I didn't live with a ton of hope. God was always an afterthought. Something would start to go a little screwy and I'd throw up a quick prayer. But living with my heart leading the way instead of God led to a sad and empty little existence.

But this year, when things came along that made me sad (like a boy or sickness or accidentally hurting a friend or past mistakes being dragged up through a stupid facebook message), although I still felt my full range of emotions, although tears and sleepless nights still happened, there was this happy thing that kept me from feeling bogged down and completely useless: hope.

I'm not sure where it came from: reading the Bible, more prayer in my life, meaningful relationships, a change of location, an excitement for living. Maybe all of these things. But I suddenly realized that the depressed angry little kid I was for a lot of years is gone. What liberation.

I was just writing an email to a friend who's going through such a tough season in her life, and as I was shelling out all this advice I realized that I'm terrified of giving advice. I always have been. I mean, when someone asks for help, they sort of expect you to give them meaningful answers, say something to actually be helpful. And I am hesitant with those words: what if what I say just makes it worse? There's some self-doubt for you.

But as I was typing this email, and the words and verses and analogies and what I hope were encouraging words started flowing, I realized that I shouldn't be fearful because everything I was saying is so true. That Jesus is the author of hope and love and sometimes being released from brokenness is the most painful thing in the world, but also so necessary.

I don't know. Our lives are never going to play out exactly the way we think they will, but oftentimes if we just let go, these amazing things we never imagined come pouring into our life without end. And that's so amazing.

Like a passion for the Word;
Like an inexpressible craving to worship;
Like a best friend absolutely filled with light and joy;
Like a relationship with a tri-lingual crazy face;
Like a sister who is entirely inspiring;
Like a promise that we will never be abandoned or forsaken.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On Rainy Days

Sitting in a small restaurant, across the table from someone I care for so much, watching the rain pound down.
Thank you, Lord, for that beauty.
For the cool freshness that stings lungs with deep breaths.
For the stormy grey ocean.
For the simple smell of autumn.
For the strip of orange above the horizon, as the sun dips below.
For a warm car, warm hands.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Saturday...

As per request of el novio:


Head popping off the cushion of the mattress, listening hard. No... it's not raining! What relief floods through the senses, laying back on the bed, closing eyes once again.

Later, sitting cross-legged in the midst of a mess of picture croppings, stickers, markers, pens, tickets, memories...

Later, buzzing about town, stopping at Trader Joe's to purchase bread and cheese and grapes...

Later, sitting in the big chair in the living room, listening to Mom talk about [something]; seeing a white car pull up in front of the house...

Secret locations.

No, we're not going tandem bike riding.

Strolling through the sunny streets of Edmonds, hand in hand;
Sitting on a blanket in a sun-dappled field;
Walking through sand, unexpected sun beating down;
Snuggling in a chair, watching Seinfeld and Friends;
Perching on a counter, watching him cook;
Eating (very tasty foods) together;
Waiting for night to descend;
Watching Marlin and Dory search for Elmo...

Where's my trailer? I need water! Fill my trailer with water...

Lips on lips.

Accidental laughter;
Star gazing;
Stealing the blanket from one another.

I can't seem to catch my breath...

Monday, August 24, 2009

On Work and Writing

Time drags slowly. Sitting in this office chair, listening to Radiohead, the Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, MGMT, the Shins. Waiting for an email from CIS. Checking facebook for the hundredth time.

My calendar is quite organized, my emails all in their respective folders. My to-do lists are pinned up on these fabric boards, my pens all face the same direction. And still the clock is so slow.

This dreariness of waiting, the slow snooziness of time this afternoon reminds me of times in DH 150, waiting for Chem 1100 to get out. Those were long afternoons, inspiring many yawns, sighs, and random scrawlings of prose across my 'notes.'

My hands are going numb as the air conditioning floods our floor. It's a perfect, sunny, seventy-three degrees outside, but without a window, with only fluorescent lights casting their glow, I somehow feel like it's winter. I need a hat and a pea coat and some really cute boots.

Taking advantage of these empty hours, the words start to flow. Revisions, deletions, additions. Sometimes, I think I'm not cut out to write novels; it is such a challenge to keep the idea going for that long. Short stories work out easier. I have too many characters in my head, and when I start a new novel, I desperately try to shove them all together, with short lived results most of the time. So, for now, I'm sticking to shorter projects.

Setting is hard; if I don't plan out what the location of my characters is exactly in my head, I tend to get disoriented so easily. Most of the time, therefore, I steal a location from my life. Like my grandparents' old farm house: this is where Todd and Sarah run about now...

He stood, holding his arm, looking at her.

She took one step forward, and motioned with her arm. “Come on.”
At her gesture, he hesitantly walked after her. She pulled the door open another foot, allowing the boy to pass through into the snow ahead of her. She closed the door fully, without a slam.

The young man gasped as the winter wind attacked him. Hugging his arms around his chest, he watched her desperately. She set a quick pace back toward the house, glancing back just
enough to see him following behind in her peripheral vision.
Reaching the back porch, she stomped against the wooden planks, dislodging snow from her boots. Opening the outer screen door, the hinges squeaked painfully. She winced as the high pitched squeal radiated in her ears. When she glanced backwards at the youth, though, he seemed not to have noticed.

He followed her into the mud room, and stood dripping on the rug just inside the door. His thin clothing was soaking, sticking to his body; his hair sent droplets of melting snow down his face.
“Wait here,” she said, after she had relieved herself of her boots and coat. Abandoning the bleeding and shivering young man, she took to the stairs, ascending into rooms largely untouched.

Reaching the second floor, she caught her breath for a moment, leaning on one arm braced against the wall. Two plush orange chairs stared at her from across the room, book-stuffed shelves lining the walls behind. She turned to her left, grasping the cool metal of a doorknob, and pushed open the bedroom door.Topher’s room was perfectly tidy, contrary to how it had been while he was alive. She crossed to the dresser, attempting to blind herself to anything in the room beside her goal. Tugging open multiple drawers, she pulled out a pair of long underwear, jeans, a t-shirt, a plaid shirt with buttons down the front, thick socks. Gathering the clothes into a bundle against her chest, she closed the drawers carefully, perfectly, and left the room just the same as it had been before her intruding.

Friday, August 21, 2009

On Beauty

There are few things I love more than fall in Seattle. While the calendar still reads August, the weather plainly screams Autumn and I could not be more thankful.

Stepping out my front door, I took a huge whiff, a smile sneaking across my face: it smells like rain. Clouds coat the sky, and the temperature is perfect to be wandering around campus in long pants and long sleeves.

With the weather aching of fall, I want fall events. Cue the start of school... in a month. Thirty-two days will pass quickly, won't they?

I rest assured they will if I fill them with the beauty that was yesterday:

Babysitting John and Grant, walking to the beach, laughing lots, stopping at the bakery, singing Potter Puppet Pals, reading choose-your-own-adventure books aloud, playing Don't Break the Ice!, and so many other tiny things that just make me smile.

And after a beautiful (but exhausting) eight hours with the twins, to relax with Ben and a good movie:

Pretending we were star gazing on my living room floor.
Endless fits of giggles.
Tickle attacks.
And priceless embraces.

I love the awkwardness, quirkyness, weirdness that we both possess. Our silly times together are amazing.

With an empty September calendar before me, the rest of summer promises some good times and surprises before the utter comfort of school descends once again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

On Growing Up

I am fearful of change, of an uncertain future.

Suddenly, my childhood is fading fast with trips to the airport, whispers of engagements.

How we have jumped from being children to adults without transition...

The beauty of drawing with sidewalk chalk, of stargazing, of playing board games, of reading children's books is thankfully not yet drowned in this growing up nonsense.
I still feel seven-years-old most of the time as the months left in my teenage years dwindle.
When does that inner child die? When do making up nicknames and running around acting like dinosaurs become less hilarious? Where there is a country separating you?
Within Jesus' call for us to have faith like children, is He also not pleading with us to retain the eyes of children? To see the world about us shrouded in lenses of joy and innocence? To love like children, quickly and without fear? To laugh like children, boundless and without end?

Whispers of Your graciousness and faithfulness abound.

Friday, August 14, 2009

On Absolute Peace

It smells like smoke: campfire, cigarette, flare, pot. And the ocean, salty breeze too cool when too far from the fire pit. So many conversations flit about, running into and on top of one another. Dirty sand stains bare feet black.

In the midst of all of this: tranquility.

Her head against his chest,
he breathing in the scent of her hair,
kissing the top of her head,
his arm fitting perfectly around her shoulders,
fingers playing and entwining with one another.

Absolute peace.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

On His Greatness

You know... God is great. "But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!" (Romans 1:19, the Message). There is no way I can go through a moment of my life without thanking God for the beauty that is surrounding me. And that is a joy. I love being aware of God, thinking of Him first in everything that happens to me.

This summer, these last few months, even this whole last year has been an incredible blessing. I think back on last summer, the relief it was to be out of that tiny, brainwashed world. The walks, the writing, the time spent with friends as I watched them, one by one, scatter across the country. Nerves started to creep into my stomach as I would lay awake at night, unable to imagine the changes in store for my life in late September.

But college came and God was great. A journal entry from the last day of orientation weekend: "I am increasingly happy at this point in time. Increasingly. It is a beautiful moment. I have this amazing sense of fulfillment and peace, and am so thankful to God. I feel like I've finally found this place where I'm supposed to be. And it is amazing. I don't think I've ever had this feeling before."

God gave me such a sense of security: I'd found a home, and I knew it after three days of being there. Another entry, from halfway through October: "If, once upon a time, you found this place where you found yourself effortlessly happy, comfortable, peaceful, and safe, but knew you could only stay for four years, what would you do to savor those years, those months, those weeks, those days, those hours, those minutes, those seconds?
Open up your arms and embrace the whole world, loving everyone you see. Smile and laugh because life is small and God is clever. Trust that everything will come out perfectly as it must and there's nothing you can do to ruin it.
I cannot lose my grace because I was not the one who gained it. Ah, to be free of all pressure.
God is good."

Blessed assurance...

It's incredible the way God knows us all so uniquely and cares for us so well. He is amazing.

I know it's easy to be hopeful and joyful when everything in your life is seamless, but my life is not without it's share of seams. But God created us, and He knows what we need, and He will always be there providing enough. Sometimes more, but sometimes just enough.

I am beautifully in love with life, and with my God the Creator of all.

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God.
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts..."
Psalm 95:1-8

Saturday, August 1, 2009

On Joy

What a joy this life is.

In the passenger seat, watching two old men in a convertible nod their heads in unison to music, hearing a motocyclist pull a wheely in the far left lane and speed off, feeling much cooler than he was in actuality.

Sun streaming, in the company of people I love so freaking much. Trader Joe's and canoes and Blue Angels and splashing and Quelf.

I cannot put voice to the assurance I have that our joy is God's joy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Words of Hope

So, for the past week or so, I've been clearing out a work room in the SUB that the student ministry groups use. It was a huge project, as the room was completely trashed throughout the year, but it is rewarding to see it looking so beautiful now. In sorting through a lot of the papers and Exhale supplies, though, I ran across some great messages of hope and of joy in the Lord:

Go out into the world with peace and with humility to love and serve the Lord.
May the radiance of Christ illuminate all that you learn and do.
May the God of hope fill your being with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May the God of peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being - spirit, soul, and body - free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Come and sing.
Come and draw.
Come and pray.
Come and dance.
Come and... be welcome.

Don't be afraid to be silent.
Don't be afraid to speak up.
Perfect love casts out all fear.
Bring good news.

I lost everything... and it set me free...

I am so sick of this by-the-book life that everybody seems to be living!

When we open our eyes...
(What if? How could we know? Can it be that...?)
We accept that there are many brilliant forms of LIGHT in darkness.

I am designing myself to
speak only love
teach only love
breathe only love.

Do more good.

Pray with someone.

Pray for someone you would normally never think of.

Pray for someone through your art.

Do not be afraid of judgement.

Love someone.

If I come without a thing then I come with all I need.

Challenge yourself.

Random act of love.

Most of these messages were painted on cardboard, scrawling script with black paint. I tacked up a lot of this artwork around the room on various bulletin boards, hoping the students who will be working in that room throughout the year will take encouragement from these words.

It was hard, I won't hesitate to admit, to sit at the SMC desk, sorting through binders of years past, seeing all these people who have served in the position I desperately wanted to obtain. Seeing a list of next year's SMCs, so many of whom are my friends: I'm so proud of them, and so jealous that they succeeded where I fell short.

A lot [a lot] of thinking went on in that room, where I could crank up Pandora as loudly as I wanted, sitting on the floor surrounded by books, or buckets of paint, or worship lyrics on overheads. And thoughts from a confused and struggling mind:

So, I know I’m being taught a lot. And I know that all of this frustration is coming from a selfish place within my heart, and these are things I need to work out between me and God. So, how can I not be frustrated? What changes do I need to make in my life, Lord, to be listening to Your voice, to be striving toward Your will? How am I to live and breathe and speak only love? Will You teach me these lessons?

My fear is that I miss too much. That my thoughts are turned up so loudly, I cannot hear the voice of God. I need Him more than any other, and when some revelation hits me in the middle of 409-ing the desks in the storage room, I am scared that God is whispering these things in my ear all the time, every day, but I am not listening well. I am too busy playing with words, or conjuring up situations that will never happen.

I need to have the patience to wait and be still. I need to wait for him to come to me. I need to wait for Him to come to me. I have these fears, this idea that I need to hold so tightly to everything around me or else it will slip away. But when I relax and let God happen in my life, that is when the greatest things begin to occur. I need to trust Him, and know again that His love will carry me and He will not let me go. That is my hope and my joy, always, continually each day.